Give a warm welcome to Gwen from Gwen and Kate’s Library!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a 16 year old girl in the USA who blogs along with her younger sister, Kate (age 11). My other passions include studying history (as I like to say “the older the better” — I prefer prehistory, but also love the Medieval and Renaissance eras), cultural anthropology and Latin, along with Celtic dancing with my sister (specifically Scottish with some Irish thrown in for good measure).
How did you end up here in the world of book blogging?
I explain this a bit in a the later question of what’s unique about our blog, but the project Kate and I undertook last summer inspired me to begin blogging. I love the opportunity to discuss my thoughts on a book, which I find helps me fully absorb my feelings about it, and it is a good substitute for talking with friends, who at this point often just flat out ignore my ramblings about books.
I love young adult historical fiction, fantasy, romance, and much more! This past summer I did a genre challenge in which I widened my horizons and read books from genres I don’t normally favor, including contemporary fiction, dystopia, paranormal, and non fiction. Since then, I have broadened the genres that I blog about to include a wider variety of young adult, middle grade, and adult books!
What do you bring to the world of book blogging? What’s unique about your perspective of books?
I think my inspiration for blogging makes me and my sister pretty unique. Last summer, my sister Kate moved out of her room and into mine, and we turned hers into a home library. Although small, it holds five bookshelves overflowing with all our favorite books, and is decorated in an “old fashioned” study manner with an old Turkish carpet, paintings of dancing ladies in Victorian gowns on the walls, and even a time capsule hidden in the shelves. Pictures can be seen on our blog under “The Story Behind the Library,” although it looks much messier now. I suppose this doesn’t change my perspective on books but it is a unique part of who Kate and I are.
Do you have any helpful hints about blogging?
Make your homepage easy to browse and make your posts eye-catching. I love my WordPress theme because the homepage is just a series of images you can scroll through. Using nice images of book covers (from Goodreads usually) or ones of book-related things I took myself really makes people want to read your post more than if it just looks like an essay.
Also, interspersing reviews with book lists and features is something I enjoy doing both as a blogger and blog-reader. Lists are often easier to scan through and get a quick sense of, while I usually only read an entire review if it is a book I already love or it is already on my to-read list.
What type of things always grab your attention in books?
My list of keywords that piques my interest (but I read much more than just this):
-King Henry VIII
-Old Mansions and Gardens
-Cross-dressing for disguise
When you go to the library (or bookstore), do you bring a list of books to get or do you browse to find your next book?
I usually browse on Goodreads, write a list, go to the library intending to get those books, and return home with twice as many. So I suppose I intend to have a plan beforehand, but when faced with tons of other interesting-looking books, all my plans fly out the window.
What books do you constantly recommend to other people?
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith! Anyone who reads by blog would know that I mention it as often as I can. I think this is more because it is one of those books that no one has ever read or heard of, the cover is terrible, and it seems like one of those “old fantasies,” and not because it is actually any better than all my other favorite books. I first discovered it in a list of Mette Ivie Harrison’s (author of The Princess and the Hound) favorite books as a teen, which included all of my own favorite books at the time, with three that I hadn’t read so far. Crown Duel was one of them and I fell in love instantly. It is very similar to Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (also books I constantly recommend), written in two parts: one about a strategic war and one about court intrigue. Highly recommended!
Any exciting blog things happening in the future?
At Gwen & Kate’s Library I recently began a new feature called Along the Lines Of… in which I make a list of books similar to the featured one that week. However, I need some advice for how to improve the feature and for future books to star in the posts if I am going to continue. Please check these posts out (there are five currently) and comment with your thoughts! That would be highly appreciated!
I also have had the idea for another feature, entitled Novel Nostalgias, which would be similar to Waiting On Wednesday but backwards. Every week I’d feature and post a quick description (but not a full review) of a book I had long forgotten — one that I read as a young child that I loved at the time. To give a little sneak peak, for me some of these books include Half Magic by Edward Eager, The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, and a rarer one, A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. Any thoughts on this possible feature?
Anything else you’d like to add?
Gosh I write a lot (but unfortunately not enough on my blog)!
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